Stadium of Fright – Stewart’s warning to Wickham

Get ready to feel the heat at Sunderland.

Get ready to feel the heat at Sunderland.

That is the advice being given to teen sensation Connor Wickham from ex-Blues striker Marcus Stewart – a man who knows exactly what it’s like swapping so-called ‘sleepy’ Suffolk for the Wearside pressure cooker.

“Ipswich fans are passionate, but it’s a whole new level up there,” warned Stewart, after the 18-year-old sealed his move to the Premier League for an initial �8.1m.

“The Sunderland fans are among some of the most impatient in the world.

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“And, having spent all that money on him, they will put pressure on him to come up with the goods right from the off. They certainly let you know if they’re not happy.”

Despite having only played two seasons in the Championship, England Under-21 international Wickham arrives at the 49,000 capacity Stadium of Light with a big price tag weighing heavy around his neck.

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The fee – which has the potential to rise to �12m and includes a sell-on clause – smashes the previous club-record of �6m received for both Kieron Dyer and Richard Wright.

“He’ll love living up there,” added Stewart, who arrived in the north-east under heavy expectations himself in 2002 following three prolific years with Town and a �3.25m transfer fee.

“There are many more distractions in that part of the world for a young lad, but I played under Steve Bruce (at Huddersfield) and I know he’ll surround him with the right people.

“It’s a good move for all parties I think.

“Sunderland have got a player who – in my mind – will undoubtedly go on to play for England, Connor’s got a big stage to shine on, while Ipswich have secured great money and already secured an excellent replacement at an absolute snip in Michael Chopra.”

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